Quarterfinals: Ari Lax vs. Luis Alfonso
Mono-Blue Devotion mirrors had plagued the top tables in Providence, and the Top 8 would prove no different. Ari had found himself on the right side of these pairings thus far... but so had Luis!
Ari fell behind in the first game of the Top 8.
Ari had the play but Luis made it to the board first with Cloudfin Raptor. Luis had the superior two-drop as well, besting Ari’s Tidebinder Mage with an awkward Frostburn Weird, avoiding the trigger thanks to being on the draw. Ari’s turn 3 Thassa threatened to make him the aggressor, and Luis couldn’t do much on turn 3—just cast Judge’s Familiar and get in a few points of damage.
Jace allowed an attack for 7 damage from Ari, suddenly turning the tables. The Architect of Thought boosted for Ari, neutralizing a lot of the threats on the board... but not all of them. Luis could jam some mana into Frostburn Weird and/or Mutavault, but no combination of mana could slay Jace. Instead, Luis cast Master of Waves in order to evolve the Raptor and knock Jace down to four loyalty.
Sending the top of his deck to the bottom, Ari considered his options. Making both of his creatures unblockable, Ari attacked for 7 damage and put Luis to 6 life. It was clearly open season on the planeswalker... maybe too open for Luis’s liking. Casting his own Thassa, Luis evolved Cloudfin Raptor and sent it at Jace alongside three Elementals, attacking Ari himself for 4 damage with the remaining viable creatures.
Finding a land atop the deck, Ari swung with an unblockable Mage to put Luis on 4 life. It was now or never for Luis—if he couldn’t end the game this turn or force most of Ari’s board into fatal blocks, he’d die to Thassa’s unblockable ability on the next turn. With over twenty power in play on his own side of the board, there was a very real potential that Ari would perish...
Luis fell on hard times in the second game with a mulligan to five.
Luis 1, Ari 0
Luis mulliganed to five following Ari’s keep, and Ari began identically—Tidebinder Mage into Thassa, while Luis failed to make a third land drop after opening on Island and Mutavault. He used Rapid Hybridization to kill Tidebinder Mage, but Ari was saving Gainsay for the Thassa Luis tried on turn 3.
Jace landed for Ari, boosting to defend from Mutavault for now. Luis had a second Thassa, which resolved, but now Ari could Jace for cards. Playing Master of Waves afterward, Ari earned a quick concession from Luis. “You don’t want to keep playing?” Ari asked, and Luis laughed—both players could appreciate the absurd board states made possible in this matchup!
Luis 1, Ari 1
Ari started on turn 1 Cloudfin Raptor when Luis had no turn 1 or turn 2... but Ari also lacked a second land. He used Rapid Hybridization on the Nightveil Specter that Luis cast, and when he drew Island that enabled a Gainsay on the Master of Waves Luis cast. Fortunate he hit the land in time—otherwise this would’ve been a bloodbath!
That 3/3 token was getting rowdy on Ari, and when he resolved Nightveil Specter he seemed surprised. No Gainsay? Luis didn’t need one—he had Domestication, which earned the scoop from Ari immediately after Ari’s next draw step.
Luis 2, Ari 1